Gibson RV’s pulls into new home

New r-pod campers are lined up Friday at the new location. The new campers are lightweight and can be pulled with most any vehicle.



Rick Gibson stands next to a 1967 Chevrolet pickup among dozens of RVs for sale Friday afternoon at the new Gibson RV’s location at 3090 I-70 Business Loop.



QUICKREAD

Gibson RV facts

• Gibson RV’s has won Fleetwood’s Circle of Excellence Award for outstanding customer service each year it has been in business.

• It was Grand Junction’s Small Business of the Year in 2002

• Judy Gibson was voted Coleman’s First Lady, a national award of the Coleman Companies, in 2001.

• Rick Gibson served as board chairman of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce in 2002.



As of St. Patrick’s Day, Gibson RV’s had a new home on 3090 I-70 Business Loop, and its old building may be history within the week.

The 13-year-old Grand Junction business, which was still in the process Friday of moving from 2549 U.S. Highway 6&50, opened for business at the new spot two days earlier. Coincidentally, the new location used to be the home of Dale Broome’s RV, so it’s not unfamiliar territory for Gibson RV’s owners Rick and Judy Gibson.

The Gibsons sold their old property as part of 20 acres purchased by Englewood, Colo.-based American Furniture Warehouse, which is planning a 150,000-square-foot warehouse and showroom there. The Gibsons’ old building is coming down in the next 10 days, according to Stacey Cook, an agent with Hill & Homes Real Estate. And the Grand Valley Auto dealership building, also included in the deal, may be torn down as early as this weekend.

Cook said American Furniture Warehouse would likely pour the concrete slab for the new building by early May. Once open in early 2011, the business will serve a 100-mile radius around Grand Junction.

American Furniture Warehouse plans to invest $23 million in the community over the next three years, Rick Gibson said he was told by the company, adding it will be a boon to the local economy hard-hit by recession.

Gibson himself wasn’t daunted by a tough year for businesses selling what are considered luxury items. Sales nationwide for recreational vehicles, whether motor homes or lightweight travel trailers, took a 20 percent dive in sales in 2009, he said. And it was worse for motor homes, which Gibson RV’s doesn’t sell, he added.

“Obviously, the RV business as well as the boat and motorcycle business took a bit of a hit,” Rick Gibson said. “But I can tell you there’s been a swing since the first of the year. We had one of the best Januarys ever. We also had a good February.”

The business employs 10 people, which is down from its peak of 27 in 2007, it’s best year ever in sales. Other than last year, he said Gibson RV’s has seen around 50 percent gains annually. Now, it’s working back to the average volumes it enjoyed five or more years ago.

Gibson readily admits he and his wife of 30 years could have shut down the RV business and retired.

“That’s true,” he said. “But we like what we do. We’re having fun. My wife, family and I have always been RVers, and we have a second generation working at the dealership now. Hopefully, that will turn into a third generation.”

All four of the Gibsons’ children have worked in the business at one time or another. Middle daughter Cindy Wheeler is general manager. Another daughter, Cheri Konakis, does sales and serves as title clerk and receptionist. And, Rick Gibson said, the six grandchildren ranging from ages 7 to 17 already are picking out positions in the company.

“They all want to be executive vice president,” he said.

Rick and Judy Gibson came to Grand Junction from St. Louis in 1985, when Gibson was assigned to manage the Western Slope for Prudential, for which he worked for 10 years until 1989. He worked a couple of other jobs before getting into the RV business in 1997.

Judy Gibson was an account executive for KEKB radio for about a decade. She and her husband also owned Empire Theater, which was operated by their son, John, for several years. Their son’s passion for theater began at Mesa State College, and he has since moved to New York to pursue an acting career, having appeared in TV episodes of “Law & Order” and “Mercy.” For their March 29 anniversary, the Gibsons are traveling to New York to see John perform in an off-Broadway performance of “Cabaret.”

Rick Gibson likes to stress how all the kids started out washing vehicles at the RV dealership. He notes they all saw a lot of changes along U.S. 6&50 in their years there.

“Everything else was just dirt, and the Super Wal-Mart and Lowe’s were just something in the back of somebody’s mind,” he said.


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